The search for B-25J #43-36013, which took off from Mar Airfield before dawn on Christmas morning continued. Between 0750 and 1730 on December 27, 18 B-25s of the 42nd Bombardment Group (four each from the 69th, 70th, 75th and 100th Bombardment Squadrons and two from the 390th) continued to search for the missing aircraft and crew. The results were negative again with no sign being found.
At 1035 during the search, a 100’ three-masted schooner two miles off Cape Saroma was attacked at masthead high by a plane from the 75th Bombardment Squadron.
A barge was sighted in a cove on the east shore of Ambelau Island at 1050. The plane that made this observation had already expended it ammunition in the schooner attack.
Several well-camouflaged small craft 30’ to 50’ long were sighted on the shore between Cape Womsaba and Wetawa Village.
At 1425 upwards of 20 single- and double-masted schooners were observed on land at Lima Village on the west coast of Ceram Island and at a nearby village. The schooners were in cradles beside native huts and appeared ready for launching. Since the schooners appeared to be of native construction and alongside native huts, no attacks were made.
A wrecked P-47 with the final four serial numbers of 3648 was noted on a reef at 01° 45’S 131° 20’E.1
On December 27, the commanding officer of the 100th Bombardment Squadron filed a Missing Air Crew Report for the crew of B-25, Aircraft Serial Number #43-36013.2
Wayne is not recorded as having flown any missions on December 27, 1944. He made no entry in his journal on this day.
In England, Wayne’s brother, Verne, wrote in his diary:
Very cold and miserable. A B-17 blew up on take-off with bombs and destroyed some property in the village of Parham about two miles from here. Felt blast very strongly at base. All crew members blown to bits.
B-17G, #42-107010, Gloria Ann II/Close Crop, of the 569th Bombardment Squadron crashed at 0835, one minute after takeoff. The crew consisted of Flying Officers James McGuire, Pilot; Hamilton H. Swasey, Co-pilot; Albert V. Banning, Navigator; M/Sgt John F. Graham; T/Sgts Pleasant D. Ralston, Top Turret, and Dominick Licata, Radio Operator; and Sgts Devere Murdock, Lower Turret; Francis Tornsbene, Waist Gunner; and James L. Trotter, Tail Gunner.
Freezing fog at bases in England restricted operations, but 641 bombers and 390 fighters were sent on missions against rail targets in Germany in support of the Battle of the Bulge.3 B-17G, #42-107010, crashed while taking off on such a mission. The weather was very bad and the control tower could not see the planes taking off. The sky was obscured with fog and visibility was 200 yards and less at times. Light rime ice was forming on the props and wings on the ground. The pilot made an instrument takeoff, which from the control tower sounded all right, like a normal instrument takeoff. After the plane was airborne for only a few moments, it crashed. The left wing hit a tree about a mile from the end of the runway and along with the left elevator was torn off. The plane then skidded into a railroad embankment where the plane caught fire and the six bombs on board exploded. All of the crew were killed. 4
Notes & Commentary
1 Consolidated Mission Report #42-962, 27 December 1944. Headquarters 42nd Bombardment Group (M), 27 December 1944, microfilm B0132, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1973, frames 663-664.
2 Missing Air Crew Reports (MACRs) of the U.S. Army Air Forces, 1942-1947, digital image, Fold3.com (http://www.fold3.com/image/46702983/ : accessed 25 December 2014), B-25, Aircraft Serial Number 43-36013, “Missing Air Crew Report” by Capt. Charles W. Wolfendale, Commanding, 100th Bombardment Squadron.
3 “Eighth Air Force Operations History, Mission 764”. Eighth Air Force Historical Society. (http://www.8thafhs.com/get_one_mission.php?mission_id=1753 : accessed 26 December 2014)
4 Report of Aircraft Accident, 27 December 1944. 390th Bombardment Group (H), Station 153, Parham, Suffolk, England, 18 January 1945, microfilm B0426, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1973, frames 699-700.